Lebanon CSP Transforming Lives – Manal Diab
In 2021, unemployment rates in Lebanon reached a new high, and university graduates with technical degrees have been struggling to find paid employment after graduation. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)- funded Community Support Program (CSP) works to counter this by providing young people in Lebanon with internship opportunities to provide their expertise to assisted communities while also offering professional mentoring to support their career development.
Manal Diab is a recent graduate from the Lebanese American University (LAU) with a degree in computer science, which was made possible through a USAID scholarship. USAID’s CSP matched her with an internship as a web developer, allowing her to complement her academic knowledge with hands-on technical experience to facilitate her entry to the job market. Manal’s internship was in direct support of the Municipality of El Qraiye in southern Lebanon. During her internship, Manal redesigned the municipality’s website to promote its newly established community market space that was enabled through USAID’s provision of kiosks, tents, latrines, and benches, as well as municipal capacity building on public event and space management.
Manal commenced her internship during the final months of her degree, and had to quickly adapt to balancing her new workload with preparing for her exams. She faced a steep learning curve, teaching herself to use new software and designing the new website from scratch. Challenging as it was, Manal overcame the odds: she passed her finals with flying colors and provided the Municipality of El Qraiye with a high-quality website. In addition to building her technical and communication skills, Manal adds that “my internship at CSP built my self-confidence. It taught me to believe in myself, my skills, and my abilities.”
Her experience with CSP, however, did not end with the completion of El Qraiye’s website. Mentored by a CSP communications expert, Manal also received support in developing soft skills to navigate through the process of applying for professional jobs, which culminated in her securing a job at a web design firm. She is unequivocal about the impact of the mentorship program on her employability: “The most valuable part of my experience with CSP was the continuous mentorship I received; without which, I would not have received my first job offer, or been able to thrive in my new role.”
As a result of her outstanding performance and results, Manal’s salary in her current position doubled by the second month, and again in the third month, and has been steadily increasing since. Manal views her current job as a “stepping stone” towards her wider ambition of starting her own business, where she aims to provide web design services to a broad client base.
“The most valuable part of my experience with USAID’s CSP was the continuous mentorship I received; without which, I would not have received my first job offer, or been able to thrive in my new role.”